THERE’S a remarkable photograph of Brian Cody that was taken after last year’s All-Ireland win over Tipperary.
The Kilkenny manager is in an embrace with Tommy Walsh and while the defender has a satisfied job-done look about him, Cody is caught mid-roar, like he’s bellowing away all the doubts and question marks that had lingered over his side’s greatness till then.
He looks for all the world more like a man who’d won his first All-Ireland title than his eighth.
You can take two things from the picture.
One: Dealing with that Tipp team probably made number one on the great challenges Kilkenny have faced this era (Cork 03-08 was moved off the top).
Two: There’s little doubt over the origin of this team’s sense of purpose.
This Kilkenny are now a bit of an anomaly in GAA terms. As the tactical evolution rolls on and game plans become more important than individuals, they retain a kind of traditional simplicity where you can imagine the pre-match whiteboard would just contain the words, “play well.” (Note: this isn’t a rant on how football/hurling is being ruined by overanalysis/ tactics. The games have never been more interesting. But it’s nice to have a counterbalance as well.)
It’d be silly to suggest Kilkenny don’t do tactics — past defeats have made Cody evolve his ideas – as they target teams’ puckouts, think seriously about matchups in defence, and they’ve always rotated forwards to find weakness.
But it’s still on the lower end of the scale and there’s something refreshing about how they just look to dominate the one-on-one battles without too many complications.
SEE today’s Evening Echo for the full column